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UK heatwave: Britain facing thunderstorms and travel woes – as it happened

Concerns over health as sweltering Heat set to continue despite storm forecasts

  • Thunderstorms may cloud blood moon
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The Guardian is now closing its liveblog, but here’s a summary of the key Weather updates for Friday.

Why has it been so hot?

The liveblog will be finishing shortly, but we will post a summary of events and any latest updates before then.

The Met Office updated it’s website today, predicting that the hot weather could return in August.

When describing the outlook for Wednesday 1 August 2018 to Friday 10 August 2018, it said: “Temperatures around normal in the northwest to begin with, but otherwise it is likely to become very warm with a chance of hot conditions developing again, especially across the south.”

Between 11 August and 25 August 2018 the weather pattern will change very slowly, it said, adding that it looks “likely that warmer and drier than average conditions are most probable overall”.

To add insult to heat stress-related injury, Australia is making fun of the British again.

The Sydney Morning Herald put it bluntly after one recent day of record temperatures in Britain: “It was the hottest day of the year in the UK and Brits could not cope”. The Adelaide Advertiser told readers “why British people can’t handle heat — and we can”.

A News.com.au report belittled Britain for panicking over a “pleasant” 33.3C: “It turns out their definition of ‘heatwave’ is dramatically different from ours.” Similarly sneering remarks abounded on Twitter – where News.com.au said “Poms” had “flocked … to gripe about the ‘unbearable weather’” and sleeplessness “that apparently comes with night-time temperatures in the low- to mid-20s”.

Yes, Australia wants to play its traditional wintertime sport “You call that a heatwave? THIS is a heatwave”. But that’s a losing game for everyone – here’s why:

Related: Whinge on, Brits – even Australians can’t take this heat | Elle Hunt

Rainfall has hit London. The Met office predicts it will be a humid evening in the capital and for the rest of the South East of England, with outbreaks of heavy, thundery rain, locally torrential.

Thanassis Ksaksiris, 45, a farmer and trader in Athens, spoke to Guardian Cities about the sweltering heat there.

I work two jobs, like most of the people who sell produce at the laikes [farmers’ markets]: two days a week growing fruits and vegetables in the fields of Marathonas [a town about an hour’s drive north-east of Athens], where I live with my family, and five days selling them at different laikes across Athens.

Working outside is always worst at the beginning of a heatwave – as it goes on, the body adapts as much as it can, and you begin to get used to it. Here in the market, working during the afternoon is bearable because we have umbrellas above each stall.

In Cairo people swim in the Nile and absorb the heat in their homes with sacks of rice. In Tokyo they carry parasols. Farmers in Bukhara fear for their future, while in Jordan, refugees cover themselves with wet towels.

And anyone who can relies on air conditioning.

Around the world, people are trying to cope with the intense and prolonged heat. As always, the most vulnerable in society – the homeless, the elderly, the poor or disenfranchised – are suffering the most.

Montreal is one of the cities that has been disrupted by deadly heat. Elmer Fecteau, 66, is living in at the Old Brewery Mission, a non-profit supporting the homeless. He spoke to Guardian Cities about the recent heatwave in the city:

There have been days when I couldn’t really go out for very long. It’s always been hot in Montreal for a few weeks here and there, but now it feels like it’s double the amount of time we have intense heat.

I’m living at the Old Brewery Mission [a non-profit supporting the homeless in Montreal]. I’m also helping some kids on the street, they’re not in as good a situation as me because they don’t have AC.

Thousands of train passengers face major delays due to a lightning strike that damaged signalling equipment in York.

Trains between Leeds and York were unable to run for several hours on Friday, leading to dozens of cancellations on one of the busiest days of the year for travel as many people begin summer holidays.

Below is a photograph of the disruption at Leeds training station.

The thundery showers have still to reach the east coast of Scotland, where the weather is staying warm and bright into the late afternoon. Glasgow also remains dry at the time of writing.

Glorious views from the Fife coast on the train back to Edinburgh this afternoon pic.twitter.com/jN5EgiHArN

The Met Office has issued a warning of thunderstorms at Ascot on Friday. Read The Guardian’s article on this and a few paragraphs of the piece below:

With the Met Office having issued a warning of thunderstorms from 2pm until midnight, however, punters with an eye on the field and betting for Saturday’s King George will also be keeping a close watch on the skies above the track, in case the course suddenly receives some natural hydration of its own.

If it does, Cracksman could well line up for Saturday’s King George and would do so as a possible favourite for the Flat season’s midsummer showpiece. It could also upset plenty of calculations elsewhere on the card, which includes the 29-runner Gigaset International Handicap over the straight seven furlongs, but the range of possibilities in terms of rainfall is so wide that for now at least, it makes more sense to ponder at the Friday card and worry about Saturday when it arrives.

It’s going to be a hot one at #Ascot today. Be like this foal and remember to stay hydrated… pic.twitter.com/WpxxX0zrAJ

Hi, I’m Sarah Marsh, taking over from Adam Vaughan. Back to the latest on the heatwave: the Met Office has issued an amber warning, with heavy thunderstorms expected this afternoon and evening. This is what it means.

#Thunderstorms have now broken out across parts of eastern England. Watch out for heavy downpours over the next few hours and stay #weatheraware pic.twitter.com/OTBwYyfyoy

Thanks for all your heatwave-related questions. I’m now handing the liveblog over to Sarah Marsh.

Is the government looking at flooding and drought in a coordinated fashion? asks one reader

@AdamVaughn

Is there any evidence that the UK government are finally seriously looking at plans to prepare for the current drought and flood risks in a meaningful and coordinated manner?

A meaty question on whether governments of the right can tackle climate change.

With these issues of global warming/climate change, enviromental issues etc – I am interested on how that can actually be achieved under ANY Tory or Republican/GOP Government…

If even Trump, got impeached via some scandal, ie the Cohen tapes or his illegal business empire of making profit with the Saudis/China Etc;

A question from below the line:

Hi Adam, ‘twice as likely’ doesn’t tally with what I have read elsewhere that we could see these weather patterns every other year. Twice as likely suggests we would see this every 20 years if this is compatible to 1976. In no way am I a ‘denier’ but I can see how people get confused when the science is not consistent or badly reported.

Next up: should we unplug all our appliances in a thunderstorm, like those forecast for parts of the country today?

Is it really necessary to disconnect all electrical appliances?

… On my Nan’s farm we had to get up in ‘t middle of the night, sit fully dressed on suitcases with the most valuable clothes, documents and the bible.

Unplug all non-essential appliances, including the television, as lightning can cause power surges.

If lightning hits high voltage overhead lines, the surge would travel along the line until it reached the nearest surge-arrester when it would be earthed. On the low voltage network it would likely either blow a fuse on the network or hit a surge-arrester. A surge-arrester switches the path of the electricity from the line to the ground when it hits a critical voltage.

If lightning hits a domestic property then it would naturally flow to earth through the structure and/or trip the main fuse on the board in the property. If the fuse didn’t trip in time then there could be a risk to appliances but if there was a direct lightning strike of that magnitude then the greater risk would likely be some pretty significant structural damage to the property. If a person was unlucky and their house main fuse didn’t trip in time then it’s likely that their electrics may be damaged along with appliances that were plugged in.

If it gets hot enough, will we get white sharks in UK waters in the future?

I live on the coast and it has been reported sharks are increasingly entering our waters. Could Great White sharks migrate to our shores if this heat continues to warm up our banana kingdom, and can we expect nasty insects?

Dawn Foster asks why it’s so hot.

“WHY?!”

Related: Why is Europe going through a heatwave?

Felicity Smith wants to know the forecast for August.

What’s the forecast for next four weeks?

August starts with generally dry weather with some sunshine and just a few showers, although northwestern parts will be cloudier with some outbreaks of rain.

Throughout this period it seems most likely that the weather pattern will change only very slowly, and it looks likely that warmer and drier than average conditions are most probable overall.

Stephen Trew asks how to keep cool at home:

What’s the best way to retrofit buildings in the UK for heatwaves?

@adamvaughan_uk

I’m about to hand over now to my colleague Adam Vaughan, who is going to attempt to answer any questions you may have about the UK’s heatwave and the broader global context.

Is the extreme weather – from heatwaves to thunderstorms – a direct effect of climate change? Can we expect more summers like this in the UK and across the globe? And what can be done about it?

Our reporter Adam Vaughan will be live on this blog between 2pm and 3pm today to answer any questions you have. You can post them below the line now, tweet Adam @adamvaughan_uk and join us here from 2pm for his replies.

The price of fans and portable air conditioning units have soared since the heatwave began as retailers and manufacturers have cashed in – if shoppers can find them.

B&Q has posted on its website to say it had completely sold out of fans and air conditioning units: “We’ve been blown away by the fan-nomenal demand.” [editor’s note: ‘ugh’]

Even sport has been affected by the hot weather, reports Paul Campbell of Guardian sport.

India had been planning to play a four-day match against Essex to prepare for their Test series with England, but they have cut the game short due to the excessive heat.

Records were broken across the UK this summer as maximum temperatures soared in May and June, according to Met Office data.

My colleague Niamh McIntyre on the Guardian’s data team writes:

Scotland and Wales saw their hottest June since records began in 1910, with maximum monthly average temperatures reaching 20.1C and 20.5C respectively, while England and Northern Ireland recorded their hottest ever May.

In England, the maximum monthly average for May was 18.3C. This was followed by the third hottest June on record, which was still short of the record set by the 1976 heatwave. Northern Ireland was cooler, at 15.6C.

There still is time today for yesterday’s high of 34.2C (London at 3pm) to be broken, according to the Met Office.

Here’s the situation at Tibenham, a former RAF station 13 miles south-west of Norwich.

UPDATE: It is now 34.1 C at Tibenham Airfield

Hospitals have started buying fans and using them to try to keep staff and patients cool as buildings overheat.

Bradford Royal Infirmary (BRI) has bought a consignment of fans as part of its response to the heatwave. It is also giving patients extra drinks and – importantly for people who spend a lot of time on their feet – staff extra breaks, to help them cope.

Is the extreme weather – from heatwaves to thunderstorms – a direct effect of climate change? Can we expect more summers like this in the UK and across the globe? And what can be done about it?

Our reporter Adam Vaughan will be live on this blog between 2pm and 3pm today to answer any questions you have. You can post them below the line now, tweet Adam @adamvaughan_uk and join us here from 2pm for his replies.

The heatwave searing northern Europe was made more than twice as likely by climate change, according to a rapid assessment by scientists.

The Guardian’s environment editor, Damian Carrington, reports here on new work by researchers who analysed records of the hottest three-day period at seven weather stations in northern Europe, from Ireland to the Netherlands to Scandinavia, where data was easily accessible.

The result is preliminary but they say the signal of climate change is “unambiguous”. Scientists have long predicted that global warming is ramping up the number and intensity of heatwaves, with events even worse than current one set to strike every other year by the 2040s.

“The logic that climate change will do this is inescapable – the world is becoming warmer, and so heatwaves like this are becoming more common,” said Friederike Otto, at the University of Oxford and part of the World Weather Attribution (WWA) consortium that did the work.

In the midst of the UK’s hottest summer for 42 years, Guardian photographer Sarah Lee has been capturing some of scenes around London.

Related: London’s long hot summer – in pictures

The rail company Northern has just posted this on Twitter

TRAVEL UPDATE: Northern advises our customers not to travel at this time. Due to lightning damaging the signalling system between #Leeds and #York all lines are blocked. pic.twitter.com/NiZyiQRUOz

Eastern England has seen an average of just 2mm of rain so far this month, and only 11mm since the start of June.

Sweltering temperatures and weeks of clear skies have left it the driest region in England this summer, according to figures from the Environment Agency.

England water status: Parched

(via @EnvAgency) pic.twitter.com/24yGXaGGaM

1926 London Underground poster: “The Underground’s The Only Spot For Comfort When The Days Are Hot – It’s Cooler Below”. (More info on why the tube used to be cold: https://t.co/btb9DMIEPN) pic.twitter.com/sqJWfKNHB0

Like those two other great seasonal problems – autumn and winter – summer can bring headaches for the railways.

Prolonged hot weather can cause rails to buckle, which means Network Rail takes the precaution of lowering speeds on train services, causing knock-on delays.

Tempers are beginning to fray in south-west London where local residents have been calling on Thames Water to deliver water to homes after a main burst in Chessington.

The water company has opened a bottled water location at Chessington Garden Centre and said that it is working hard to re-route the network and restore supply to the area affected.

#Chessington Update: We’ve set up a bottled water location at Chessington Garden Centre, KT9 2NG. Please come and see us if you need any bottled water.
https://t.co/9gsT5qgjuc

As a result, due to the health and safety of you our guests, we have been forced to make the difficult decision not to open the theme park and zoo today. We apologise we weren’t in a position with the information provided to us by Thames Water to make our decision sooner.

A burst water main in Chessington has left some parts of Claygate without water! It is a very hot day so young and old may need help. Where can they go to get water? @thameswater

Is the extreme weather – from heatwaves to thunderstorms – a direct effect of climate change? Can we expect more summers like this in the UK and across the globe? And what can be done about it?

Our reporter Adam Vaughan will be live on this blog between 2pm and 3pm today to answer any questions you have. You can post them below the line now, tweet Adam @adamvaughan_uk and join us here from 2pm for his replies.

So far today overheating rails have not been a problem for train services – although storms and lightning in the north have caused signal failures and disruption.

But speed restrictions on tracks are still likely to be put in place elsewhere later in the day if rails heat up.

Reminders to keep safety in mind when swimming in lakes and rivers have been issued amid a number of incidents in which people have got into difficulty.

Thames Valley police said a man’s body has been recovered from the Jubilee river in Slough.

This looks fairly ominous from Leeds

No trains at all departing from Leeds. Lightning strike apparently. I’m trying to write up an interview with ⁦@networkrail⁩ bosses. The irony. pic.twitter.com/978obqDxqF

Parliament is currently in recess, but this may raise some concerns about how any remaining lawmakers and their staff are going to cope

SHOCK: Westminster Greggs Closes Due to ‘Extreme Heat’https://t.co/f17mlC8T9f pic.twitter.com/XfZh9I4ZCk

Not sure anyone saw this coming..

Current heatwave reveals the ghost of Chatworth’s #17thCentury knot [email protected] #StuartEngland pic.twitter.com/UuDH6p5PFt

Soil the consistency of concrete is taking its toll on wild animals who dig for their food. Badgers and hedgehogs in particular are struggling and animal hospital admissions are soaring.

“We’ve had the greatest number of admissions we’ve ever seen in June and July,” says Samantha Hannay at Secret World Wildlife Rescue in Somerset.

There is nothing glamorous about trying to stop yourself sweating in a heatwave, and nothing aspirational about the phrase ‘breathable fabrics’, but they do keep you cool.

Linen is a big trend this summer, and there are loads of options on the high street – like this short-sleeved, olive dress – that feel smart enough for work.

Glasgow woke up to another muggy morning, but with a cooler breeze and gathering dark clouds suggesting a welcome downpour later in the day.

While Scotland has not experienced the extreme temperature spikes of the south-east of England, public health professionals have been expressing concerns that – because Scots are less … familiar, shall we say, with warmer weather – their sun safety is wanting.

Darkening skies over Glasgow this morning but at least there’s a breeze too #weather pic.twitter.com/foAYsteADn

A surgeon has said a “radical culture change” towards drinking water is required to help the UK stay hydrated during the heatwave.

Bhaskar Somani, a consultant urological surgeon at University Hospital Southampton NHS Foundation Trust, says that attitudes towards water consumption “remain poor” even among those at higher risk of health problems.

Spare a thought for farmers, who are now bracing themselves for thunderstorms and outbursts of heavy rain after weeks of drought and high temperatures.

The sudden change in the weather is likely to cause problems of flooding and potential crop damage, writes the Guardian’s environment correspondent, Fiona Harvey.

While farmers with parched fields and wilting crops have been hoping for rain, land that has been baked dry and hard in the two-month heatwave will be unable to absorb the moisture.

Rain running off the land as a result could cause localised flooding and, especially if accompanied by hail, could further damage crops that have suffered in the heat.

It has been a week that threatened to break all-time temperature records, and included the year’s hottest day so far, when Santon Downham in Suffolk saw temperatures of 33.3C.

As thunderstorms look set to grant a reprieve from the heat, here’s how the papers covered the week’s hot temperatures:

Related: ‘Bake to the future’: how the papers covered the British heatwave

Your sporadic reminder that London and the south-east does not = the UK. It rained last night in much of northern England – I got caught in a shower riding my bike in the Derbyshire Peak District after work.

The view this morning from my bedroom window in Stockport, Greater Manchester, looking out towards Kinder Scout looks ominous, though the BBC weather app thinks we are heading for highs of 28C later.

We’re seeing commentators complaining about their inability to sleep.

Help is at hand though, courtesy of some guidance from Prof George Havenith of Loughborough University (contained in this Guardian ‘Ten Ways to Beat the Heat’ article)

Then in the evening, open all the windows as much as possible, so you get a draught, which will cool it down again.

If your home has more than one level, it will probably be hotter upstairs, so opening windows top and bottom will help flush the heat out.

Whether you have been out and about enjoying the sun or retreating to the coolness of indoors we’d like to hear how you’re experiencing the heatwave.

What are your tips for keeping cool? If you have any concerns about the heatwave we’d like to hear about them too.

This (unverified) footage from Yorkshire gives a hint of the reaction across some parts of the country as rain arrives.

Some proper weather at last, none of that sun stuff ! pic.twitter.com/OdoMWV5YV2

Rain in Redcar. Beautiful, monsoon rain. And thunder and lightening. Almost forgotten what it was like.

This morning’s temperatures are already a few degrees higher than this time yesterday, according to the Met Office, which also has a yellow warning in place for eastern counties of England due to expected thunderstorms.

That basically means keep an eye on the latest forecast and be aware that the weather may change, with storms possibly causing localised disruption to power and surface water on roads.

Good morning everyone, Rachael here. Exceptional heat in the east, sparking severe thunderstorms today. You can find your local forecast here: https://t.co/RIkN6dgRnS Have a good Friday. pic.twitter.com/dOUw6GzXbs

Bad news for stargazers now. Rain clouds and thunderstorms today could prevent people from seeing the “blood moon” lunar eclipse in some parts of the country as forecasters warn of torrential downpours across eastern parts of Great Britain.

The Met Office issued a thunderstorm warning from Friday afternoon due to last until just before midnight.

It’s very definitely holiday weather, but more than 2 million UK workers are not getting the time off work they are entitled to, according to new analysis from trade unions.

The Trades Union Congress (TUC) said 1.2 million people were not getting any paid leave at all, while a million were not getting their minimum paid leave entitlement.

Fancy a #staycation today? These places should see the best of the hot #sunshine today @visitnessie @VisitStratford @BognorBeachUK pic.twitter.com/nyIAzSCiPD

Thousands of tickets have been cancelled for passengers returning today or Saturday on the Eurotunnel.

High temperatures had already been blamed for delays to cross channel rail services, leaving large number of customers waiting for hours in 30C heat.

The unprecedented high temperatures are affecting the operation of air conditioning on our shuttles resulting in long delays. We strongly recommend you stock up with drinking water before you arrive at our terminal; there is a long queue to check-in with no access to facilities.

Update: There is currently 60 min wait Pre Check-in, 2h30 wait on our Passenger service from Folkestone. This is due to the extreme temperatures affecting the shuttle air conditioning. We’re sorry for the inconvenience caused to your journey. ^FF

Had trouble sleeping last night? That’s the least of some people’s worries as the heat continues to drive some hospitals to crisis point.

Large numbers of people have been attending some A&E as higher temperatures increase the probability of dying from cardiac, kidney and respiratory diseases for some, with associated higher air pollution also posing a risk.

Nurses are now becoming patients themselves due to the heat. We have heard from one member who ended up in A&E suffering from dehydration after working 12-hour shifts back to back in temperatures exceeding 30C.

Others have reported exhaustion, sickness and dizziness. This is not acceptable. Good patient care depends on nurses and clinical support assistants being well enough to perform their jobs effectively.

Friday is predicted to be the hottest day on record, yet most NHS hospitals don’t have air conditioning. Managers must ensure staff and patients are protected so that the extreme heat doesn’t become intolerable.

Phew, good morning and welcome to the Guardian’s live coverage of the heatwave that has gripped Britain.

The mercury reached 35C (95F) on Thursday in Heathrow, west London. Predictions that an all-time record of 38.5C could be exceeded in south-east England today look like they’re not going to be realised after all now after the arrival of thunderstorms earlier than expected.

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UK heatwave: Britain facing thunderstorms and travel woes – as it happened

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